I listened quietly while a client ranted about a colleague’s performance. When the dust settled I asked how she would manage this challenge. In turn she asked me how I would solve the problem and moreover, why is it I spend more time asking questions than providing answers.
There are two issues at play here, 1) I prefer solutions being offered rather than problems being regurgitated and 2) I do ask a lot of questions. It’s what a business coach does.
My client was quite flustered, just as I hoped she'd be. There was nothing to gain by going on and on as we were, after all the goal of our session was to make things work more effectively. Questions are powerful, often more so than the answers they lead to. Of course they do have to be managed appropriately too. Asking a lot of questions with no outcome in mind is frustrating for everyone and so it’s imperative to manage our questions well. Let’s take my interaction with my client as an example.
I knew that my line of questioning would fluster my client. A rant is an opportunity to blow off steam but left un-checked it will not resolve what ails you. The questions I posed led to the revelation that my client was harboring a grudge- the complaint about performance was little more than an excuse to vent. My questions brought the real issue back into focus; the questions served as a reminder to the client that greater insight was needed. Once the underlying road block had been identified we were free to move on to the real problem.
Ultimately we are seeking answers but the way in which we use questions is vital if we are going to achieve our goals.